New stumps and fallen trees along the pathway through Maple Ridge Park. (Neil Corbett/The News)

New stumps and fallen trees along the pathway through Maple Ridge Park. (Neil Corbett/The News)

Complaints about trees coming down in Maple Ridge Park

City hall says arborist marked hazardous trees for removal, plantings to come

People who use Maple Ridge Park are upset that trees are coming down, as part of the Fern Crescent Multi-Use Pathway project.

Heather Sartorius and her husband frequently walk in the park, using the trials that parallel Fern Crescent, and they were troubled to see stumps and fallen trees laying beside the path last week.

“It’s so sad,” said Sartorius.

“The park is sacred. It’s been in Maple Ridge since the 1920s, and we’re ruining it,” she said. “I would like to see it left, for my grandchildren to enjoy.”

The park is the oldest in Maple Ridge, as the land was donated to the municipality by the BC Electric Railway Company in 1924. According to the Maple Ridge Museum and Archives, it’s one of the original parks in the area.

Sartorius said of the trees that have been cut, some appear to have rot, but others appear healthy. She said the vegetation provided a barrier from the road traffic, but it is much diminished.

“You feel like you’re on the road now,” she said. “People go there for the nature.”

Sartorius said she was not allowed to cut a tree on her private property, even though it was growing into service lines. She accuses the city of holding residents to a higher standard on their personal property than the city follows in its own parks.

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The city’s own tree bylaw places a high value on trees, saying it encourages preservation measures whenever possible, and promotes tree replacement where cutting takes place. No tree can be cut, damaged, or topped without a permit from city hall, and the fines for infractions are set as high as $10,000.

Sartorius said park users she speaks with are not happy with the tree cutting.

Another trail user in the park told The News he would prefer the path remain unpaved, and more natural, and said the current trail surface is still easily used by cyclists.

The city calls the project the 132nd Avenue and Fern Crescent Multi-Use Path and Intersection Improvements. The goal is to “upgrade the active transporation facilities on 132nd Avenue and Fern Crescent, between 232 Street and 236 Street.”

Construction started this month, and will be completed in June of 2023.

There will be a three-metre wide asphalt pathway with lighting, which generally follows the existing trail, going into Cross’s Cabin Park and the Maple Ridge Dog Park. The project will include a new roundabout at Fern Crescent and 236th Street.

The city said it is removing trees that could pose a hazard, but will be planting more.

Forrest Smith, the city director of engineering, said pre-construction planning included having a city arborist conducted an audit of the trees along the proposed route, to determine their health and assess potential risks to contractors and future users of the pathway. Nine trees have been marked and will be removed, as they are deceased and rotting.

As part new path project, an assessment of new tree plantings and enhancements along the pathway is being undertaken.

For 2023, staff will be adding to the forest canopy by planting 670 new trees, using eight different species to ensure a mixed forest eco-system, noted Smith. In addition, the city will be planting more than 1,200 native shrubs and 4,500 plants in the forest in the park boundary.

“The protection of Maple Ridge’s tree canopy is an important consideration in all of our planning and construction projects,” said Smith, “and the investment to assess each specific tree impacted by this project reflects the rigor used by city staff before a tree is pruned or removed.”

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Have a story tip? Email: ncorbett@mapleridgenews.com

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